Like the rest of the country, Nebraska is struggling with the opioid epidemic. Arrests continue to mount, undeterred by some of the most severe penalties in the country.
In Nebraska, possession of even a small amount of heroin is a Class IV felony, subject to as many as five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- In 2017, Alberto Zamora and Juan Nava of California were arrested during a traffic stop along Interstate 80 with nearly 25 pounds of heroin in a firewall compartment of their vehicle.
- Earlier this year, Christian J. Molina of Texas was arrested at an Omaha bus station with 11 pounds of heroin strapped to his torso and concealed in his bag with a street value of $250,000.
- In perhaps the most notorious arrest, in April Nebraska state troopers stopped Felipe Genao-Minaya and Nelson Nunez of New Jersey in a Freightliner tractor-trailer on Interstate 80. Inside they found 118 pounds of fentanyl, a drug 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. The haul had enough fentanyl to kill tens of millions of people.
Possession or between 10 and 28 grams of heroin is a Class 1D felony (minimum three years in prison), between 28 and 140 grams is a Class 1C felony (minimum five years in prison), and more than 140 grams is a Class 1B felony (minimum 20 years in prison). Involving a minor within 1,000 feet of a school, university or youth center brings stiffer penalties, as does involvement of a firearm.
Crossing state lines leads to federal penalties which, depending on the amount of heroin involved, range from a minimum of five years to 10 years in prison for the first offense.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 130 in the U.S. die from opioid-related drug overdoses every day. In 2016, more than 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses, more than any year on record. HHS estimates 40 percent of the deaths involved a prescription opioid.